FAA officials have allowed Southwest Airlines Co. to continue flying their airplanes despite the fact that more than 128 machines had missed inspections of their backup rudder systems. These mandatory inspections must, however, be performed while Southwest Airlines is still allowed (for the following five days at least) to continue flying these planes.
These 128 machines make up approximately 1 fifth of the entire Southwest Airlines fleet and had all these machines be grounded pending inspection, Southwest Airlines could not have conducted its regular flights.
Southwest Airlines have more than 3,400 daily national and international flights, so not being able to use one fifth of its fleet would have been devastating. As a result, on late Tuesday, Southwest representatives attempted to negotiate a rather peculiar arrangement with FAA officials and federal regulators so that they could still fly the planes while the checks were being completed.
“A select number of aircraft have been removed from service for maintenance checks, resulting in minimal delays.”
the company announced on Tuesday via its Twitter account, when it voluntarily withdrew 128 Boeing 737 models from its service. Southwest Airlines informed the FAA that these machines had not undergone some of their mandatory hydraulic inspections and had to cancel approximately 80 flights as a result of taking the machines out of service.
Discussions followed between Federal Aviation Administration officials, plane maker Boeing and Southwest in order to find a suitable solution that would keep the planes in the air while the necessary inspections were being carried out. The FAA also confirmed the arrangement, which mandates that Southwest completes the inspections over the following five days, during which the 128 airplanes will be allowed to continue flying.
“The FAA approved a proposal that would allow Southwest to continue operating the aircraft for a maximum of five days as the checks are completed,”
a statement made by the Airline said.
Southwest Airlines has already had previous such situations. In 2009, the company received a fine for failing to conduct the necessary inspections on dozens of aircrafts which had fuselage cracks. The issue was resolved with Southwest paying a $7.5 million settlement to the Federal Aviation Administration. Another issue arose in 2011 when the FAA mandated extensive inspections on the company’s older Boeing 737 models as a result of a mid-flight hole bursting open in one of Southwest’s aircrafts. The plane was forced to conduct an emergency landing at an Arizona military base.
The Dallas carrier has also had rather embarrassing slip-ups, as the 2008 disputes that the company had with the Federal Aviation Administration because of other maintenance failures. The FAA had allowed Southwest to continue flying over 45 planes although the aircrafts had not undergone mandatory structural inspections. Lawmakers were beside themselves when the FAA allowed Southwest yet again to fly planes that had been equipped with unauthorized parts.
Image Source: NBC News
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